The Stress, The Mess and Handling It

Victoria Cairl
Jul 14 · 4 min read

mmI can’t find my passport and it’s tearing me apart.

And yeah, I’m aware this is a fixable problem but the things I need to fix it, I can’t find either. It’s weird to think without our birth certificate or our marriage license or our Social Security card, we can almost cease to exist, but here I was with only one of the three and wondering how I was going to prove who I am in order to leave the country.

Let’s start with the good part. I booked a flight on a whim right around my birthday, to go visit my best girl friend from college along with some others I adore who all happen to work in the U.K. And yes, the timing was right as I have just launched my own business focused on marketing and selling both theater and cultural attractions and London has both in spades. My friend and I agree to dates, I find my cheap flight and I smile for about 48 hours straight.

Then I go to grab my passport from a drawer it’s been in for the past few years and guess what? It’s gone. I truly need a week away for a vacation that’s been two years or more in the making. And yet, in order to get there, I need to solve this big and potentially expensive problem. It also bothered me, so very much, that something I thought was going to be easy was suddenly so damn hard.

Next, I do what I always do, I sit down and figure out how to solve it all. “May all your mistakes be little mistakes you can fix and learn from”, a boss once said to me. (Thank you, Scott Johnson). And I start, step by step, cleaning room by room in my disaster of a house, trying to retrace years of steps. All I had to do was remain calm and collected, be methodical in the search, all while ordering the documents I lost to have the back-up plan to get a new passport. I just needed to breathe and not be tempted to curl up in a ball on the floor and rock. (Though, I did make it to the fetal position on the floor once this week, but my husband made me get up).

There were a few moments in the past week, when calm was not in my vocabulary. You see in addition to finding my passport, I am still learning how to balance multiple clients and be a rock star on all accounts. And the fun part is, none of them are the same. Each comes with unique challenges and uses a different part of my brain. So, first priority has been to focus on that. Secondly, there’s three kids with different summer schedules to tend to. And finally, there’s new business to go out and win, as well as one day a week with an out-of-town client. I was adulting hard-core. And thank God, for friends who were patient and willing to hang out in short moments throughout the week to allow me to sit back if only for a moment to try and relax.

Here’s how I coped:

1) I stopped rushing and just played it out. — I looked in place by place, cleaning out box by box of paperwork among other things that had been hidden in my house along the way. I went slowly through it all as not to miss a crucial step.

2) I savored the moment while I was in it. As I cleaned space by space, I listened to podcasts and found old photographs. Turns out, I may not have found all I was looking for but I did find a lot of good things along the way: photos from a trip to Italy where we stood in volcanic mud, wedding invitations, birth announcements, Holiday cards from friends all over, you know, all the documents that truly make me human not just government ID.

3) I went the hard way- I found the list of all I needed to collect. I ordered the documents I needed online. I paid for an expediting service. I made a back-up appointment at a same-day processing center (but couldn’t get an appointment until the day before my trip- so that’s my “oh crud” plan). When I was cleaning, instead of just making a more of a mess pushing through mounds of paperwork, I started to truly organize all we have.

And here I sit, not in the coffeeshop where I normally write but in a very clean dining room. I still have some boxes to sort through and one more document needed to get this while passport thing done. Today, I also am spending time working on all my client projects and meeting with a dear friend, who’s also a bookkeeper.

My advice this week, things happen that will cause you stress. We can’t predict all that life is going to throw in our way. We can make the most of it, learn from it and even take steps to avoid this stress again.

Go make sure you know where your passport is and your birth certificate and social security card while you’re at it. But also, don’t forget where all the good things within your home that make you one beautiful, imperfect human who can handle even the most stressful of situations.

Victoria Cairl

Written by

Writes about women and work and all else

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